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April 2014

Press Kits

By Robert McLellan

Press kits are as old as the brochures themselves. These were primarily produced for newspapers to enable them to create articles for the initial presentation of the cars to the public. Once used, they were discarded because they contained printer's materials. I have come across only a few that predate the 1940s so when early ones become available it worth pointing them out. I currently have two extremely rare 1949 press kits that came from a literature collector who preserved them from new. The 1949 Lincoln and 1949 Mercury press kits are currently in stock. I present to you the Lincoln press kit as an example.

Lincoln 1949
1949  Lincoln (Lincoln and Cosmopolitan), Two New Lincolns, Press Releases
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Mercury 1949
1949 Mercury (Eight [Series 9CM]), All-New Mercury Press Releases, Press Kit
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Through the 1950s to the 1980s, press kits slowly developed into portfolios and notebooks of black & white glossy photos and printed descriptions of the new cars and their new features, options, drive trains and interior changes. Often some color slides and occasionally a color photograph or two were included. Then came technological changes. First the diskettes and then CD-ROMs. With modern printing, the press kits became more and more impressive. The auto industry media demands rapid transmission of information from the auto industry to the public via magazines, newspapers, television and now the internet. The collector of car literature is now being by-passed, making the paper form of literature and press kits rarer still and more valuable. Now a car company simply has a media web site where they allow journalists to download information and photos. Without access, you have to depend on online sources to provide you with what is available.

The golden age of the press kit was in the 1990s and early 2000s. Collectors are now realizing that those were the "good old days" and that press kits are becoming history. Those old press kits are now headed for the nostalgia period in auto literature collecting and collectors like to preserve memories. Innovative packaging and elaborate on-stage presentations at auto shows were the norm as each company tried to upstage its competitors. Most press kits came with color photographs and color slides. Others included model cars or some memorabilia. The objective of course, was to get the journalists' attention and to give them something memorable to place on their office desk or bookshelf that said, "Remember us. We gave you a good time and a nice gift. Now give us favorable press coverage."

A few examples are shown below. You will find hundreds under most of your favorite makes for the 1990s to the mid 2000s, with some in the 1980s are still available. Enjoy browsing the selection.

Cadillac 1998
1998 Cadillac Seville, Press Kit
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Chevrolet 1999
1999 Chevrolet Silverado, Press Kit
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Dodge 2003
2003 Dodge (Viper) brochure, Chapter 3, Press Kit
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Rolls-Royce 2005
2005 Rolls-Royce (The Rolls-Royce Phantom), Press Kit
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Auto Maniacs Newsletter, April 2014



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